Housing planned for all abilities

Goal is to help disabled live more independent lives

A Bloomington company is building two residential homes for disabled individuals on Columbus’ east side.

Eight developmentally or physically disabled individuals will live in the units along McKinley Court, near Columbus East High School.

The new residences, named LIFEDesigns at McKinley, are primarily being funded by $900,000 in grants from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority and the Old National Bank Foundation.

LIFEDesigns also was recently awarded nearly $14,000 in grant funding from the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County that will be used to furnish both units. About $45,000 toward the project came from LIFEDesign’s own budget, said Stephanie Shelton, chief development officer for the organization.

Susan Rinne, CEO of LIFEDesigns, said the project came about after the organization wanted to provide more individualized services to clients it serves. LIFEDesigns serves about 320 people in south-central Indiana, including about 15 in the Columbus area.

The organization serves clients of all ages with a wide range of disabilities, with a majority having a developmental disability such as cerebral palsy or autism, Shelton said.

It offers two types of community living opportunities to clients, which includes supported living that allows individuals to live their lives more independently. A second community living known as residential or group home living tries to get clients involved in their community through social activities, Shelton said.

Rinne said LIFEDesigns had some success in the Monroe County area with housing that was built and provided individuals with privacy while also being able to utilize services. The organization previously built a group home that houses six people and provides them with individual bedrooms and bathrooms, along with a shared kitchen area, she said.

Rinne said LIFEDesigns wanted to reproduce that type of model in the Columbus area, noting that some units for the two residential homes in Columbus will have roll-in showers for individuals with mobility issues. A groundbreaking celebration for the development will be held Friday.

Individual bedrooms and bathrooms with a common kitchen area and family/great room will also be a part of the residential homes that will be constructed.

Officials hope to have the residential complex open by April, while two adjacent units are planned to be built as part of a second phase of the project in 2018. Officials plan to pursue grant funding for that effort as well.

Shelton said support staff will likely be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for residents based on individuals’ needs. Clients who move to the Columbus area will be able to access resources in the community while looking for employment opportunities as well, Rinne said.

While the housing opportunities will be beneficial to people who live there, there also is a benefit to the community, she said.

“The people we serve volunteer, they work and they participate in community events like everybody else,” Rinne said.